On-campus Postgraduate Life | College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

On-campus Postgraduate Life | College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

October 9, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


It’s important to recognise that Edinburgh was set up as the city’s university in the 1550s. The links between the city and the university are indivisible and in some senses they’re both very similar, in that they’re both small enough to be personal but large enough to be internationally very significant. So come to Edinburgh and you acquire an internationally outstanding experience. So, I think the reason that Edinburgh is such a fantastic place to do research is the way that we have completely revisited our structure and philosophy over the last twenty years. We went from a fairly conventional medical school and veterinary school, with dozens of tiny little departments, and we got rid of all the departments, developed a very interdisciplinary, interactive philosophy where we do our research in centres. Centres are large with perhaps two hundred staff and postgraduate students. And they bring together, cheek by jowl, at the bench, basic scientists and clinical scientists working together on a major theme of mutual interest. But in each case we bring together people of different backgrounds, be it veterinary research, clinical research, or basic biomedical science to work together, and that has added an enormous amount of value to the quality of the science we’re able to produce. We’ve also allowed the basic scientists through the clinical colleagues of the bench access to human clinical material. I’m a doctor by trade, and I’ve taken two years off to do some research. Ultimately as a doctor my aim is to improve patient care and one of those ways is to come up with novel treatments for patients. Edinburgh is recognised throughout the UK as a great place for research, especially within the medical field. My role within this department, which is the Breakthrough Cancer research department is to come up with new ways of identifying how patients will react to different drugs. What I’m currently doing is, I’m taking small pieces of breast cancer tissue from patients when they’re having their breast cancer removed and I get the breast cancer to continue to grow. As the breast cancer continues to grow within this three-dimensional jelly, I can treat it with different drugs and see how that individual patient’s tumour will react to a battery of different treatments. The ideal goal will be for individually-tailored patient treatment. Two major human clinical campuses an an emerging major veterinary one where the patients are seen in the same place as the fundamental science is going on. So that the two things which should be indivisible are actually functioning and visible. The patients are seen in the same place as the fundamental research goes on. So the questions literally go from the bedside, through to the laboratory bench and then back to the bedside. The College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine is essentially divided into four schools and that forms the administrative structure of the College. And then within that structure we have a number of research centres and institutes which form the research framework for the College. Well the research within the College really follows a spectrum from basic biomedical research right through to translational medicine. And the research by its very nature is interdisciplinary. And that’s really important for both taught programmes and research programmes, because because this provides the building blocks and the fundamental background for these postgraduate students to go on and make successful careers for themselves in the biomedical research field. We have a number of research programmes for postgraduate students and those range from the Masters by research and the Master of Philosophy right through to Doctor of Philosophy and very often students will go through the Masters by research route first, just because they want to have the experience of research and see whether they want to do a PhD without having to commit to a three year programme and it really is good training into that research environment My name is Lynee Anderson, I’m from California. I chose to come to the University of Edinburgh because of the particular programme. I studied Reproductive Biology in undergrad and liked the idea doing a Masters in the subject. Also because there was a chance to study abroad at a very prestigious university. We do two mini projects that are ten weeks long. We do the research and then we write the mock and then we do the maxi project which is twenty weeks long. For my second mini project and my maxi project I used tissue that we get directly from the hospital, and I think working so closely with the clinical setting, you get into a translational mindset where you’re not focused on one tiny little protein or one tiny little gene, you see the bigger picture and you have that in mind the whole time which I think is really important to research. I’m Natalie Royle and I’m from Manchester. I’m in the first year of my PhD and I’m working on brain imaging structural changes in ageing brains. Edinburgh is a fantastic city to live in – it’s beautiful and it’s very friendly and the reputation of the University is very very good. Working in a hospital has its benefits, as far as you’re very immediately close to the people that you need to be – to radiographers, and radiologists and specialists and things like that that are in that area that you need access to. Also you get to see a lot of how the actual images come to be, and the scanner and then the patients and then we get them. We’re not just separated in a little lab somewhere in an office and we don’t really have you know, any idea of where they’ve come from originally so it’s quite nice. People collaborate a lot more so you get access to areas that you wouldn’t in other universities. I’m Sobia Raza, I’m from Manchester but i moved to Edinburgh about four years ago to pursue my Masters and now I’ve decided to stay on to do my PhD. I’ve published quite a few papers – two first author papers and the rest within a group. Two have been based on my modelling of my cell and I’ve had the opportunity to present those papers at conferences, predominantly as poster presentations There’s lots of benefits to presenting all throughout your academic career, if you choose to stay in academia then you’ll have to present. And also presenting to people from lots of different disciplines, so trying to explain your ideas in a less specific manner is quite important as well. My name is Bec and I’m from Hobart in Australia. I’m studying the Master of Science in Public Health research and I’m doing my dissertation in genetic risk factors for multiple sclerosis in Orkney and Shetland. I did a Bachelor of Arts majoring in History and Psychology, and then I did a PhD in Medical History looking at smallpox vaccination in 19th century Eastern Australia. After finishing my PhD I decided that History was a bit too lonely for me and that I’d like to be an epidemiologist. So I worked for a couple of years in a medical research institute – but to progress further I needed formal qualifications and training in more quantitative methods. So the Masters for me is really a conversion course for me to go further in the career that i’ve chosen to follow. I was really excited about studying in Scotland, both because the University of Edinburgh has a marvellous reputation and excellent programmes, but also because of the lifestyle. I’m really into outdoor activities and I really like climbing, kayaking and walking – all the wonderful things that Scotland has to offer I’m hoping that my training in the quantitative parts of epidemiology will add to the more qualitative stuff that I did in History and that I’ll be able to move into a research assistant position and then build up, work through academia and become a proper grown up epidemiologist researcher. Our whole ethos is to cooperate, to interact and to collaborate and that not only allows for fantastic training for a student but stands the student philosophically in good stead for a career in science, where I’m afraid holding on tightly to your own work and not talking to your colleagues really doesn’t work. Science is now a global undertaking. Sure we compete, but we owe at least as much indeed more collaborate and interact. And it’s those sorts of skills that are taught right up front, so the atmosphere is strong, the outcomes are fantastic and the staff are highly supportive. And of course the quality of the research is second to none in the whole of Europe. So if you’re interested in translating research into patient benefit – whether the patients are humans or animals, Edinburgh is the place to be.